DEAR ABBY: My strongest "love language" is physical touch. For 23 years, my husband gave hugs galore to any and every woman, but never to me. The word "never" is not an exaggeration. He has recently begun to change and try to be better. Now he does hug me as much as I want. But when he hugs other women, it still feels like a knife through my heart.
He says the hugs mean nothing to him, but I question why, if they were so insignificant, he couldn't give me even one for more than two decades? How do I get over feeling hurt when he hugs other women? Is there something wrong with my perspective on this? I'm not sure if I'm being too sensitive. -- FINALLY WORTH HUGGING
DEAR FINALLY: Too sensitive? There is nothing wrong with your "perspective." For 23 years your passive-aggressive husband chose to withhold a gesture of affection you requested, while showering other women with it. It's "nice" that he's finally willing to make the effort to hug you but, frankly, it seems a bit late. It may take a therapist to help work through your justified hurt and anger over this. My advice is to start now.
DEAR ABBY: My husband died suddenly three months ago. My family sympathizes with me; however, my youngest daughter thinks I need to move on and get over his death. How can I make her understand that his death has devastated me, and getting over it will take time? She reads tarot cards and claims the cards are telling me to get over it and move on. How can I get her to stop with the card readings? -- HEARTBROKEN IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: Your daughter may be trying to be helpful. She may also be uncomfortable seeing her mother in pain. Clearly, she has no clue about how grief works. There is no timetable for it, but three months is a relatively short period of time. Tell her that for the foreseeable future those card readings will no longer be a subject of discussion. Then, if she brings it up again, change the subject.
DEAR ABBY: I'm writing to ask your advice about how to tell my friends we should not exchange Christmas gifts this year. We are all retirees. I'm not cheap, and neither are they, but none of us "needs" anything. I suspect many of us want to say it, but we don't know how. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Suggestions? -- HALTING HOLIDAY GIFT-GIVING
DEAR HALTING: I assume you see or communicate with these friends regularly. Raise this subject during one of your visits well before the Christmas holiday. Many retirees are trying to divest themselves of the "things" they have accumulated during their lifetime, and your friends may feel similarly. Do not feel shy about bringing it up. They may be as relieved as you about exchanging only cards and good wishes.